Is it a coincidence that the minister of state for health no longer accompanies Union minister Ghulam Nabi Azad?
Sonal Matharu | July 13, 2010
Words may or may not have capacity to heal but they can surely harm a politician’s prospects. The latest, if less publicised, casualty among the motormouth ministers appears to be the minister of state for health Dinesh Trivedi. No, the Lok Sabha member of the Mamata Banerjee-led All India Trinamool Congress has not got the boot, being a non-Congress minister has its advantages, but there are tell-tale signs that he may have already been effectively sidelined. All because this MBA from University of Texas flouted a sacred principal of politics as much as management by chastising bureaucrats of his own ministry in public.
Ever since Trivedi accused the babus of red-tapism and ridiculed them for delaying projects, inviting a public reaction from health secretary K Sujatha Rao, the minister appears to have been replaced by his less articulate colleague S Gandhiselvan at almost all conferences organised by the ministry.
At a recent event organised by the CII on innovation in medical technology, Trivedi was scheduled to be accompanied by K Sujatha Rao and the drugs controller general of india Surinder Singh, both from the health ministry. Trivedi marked his attendance at the one-day seminar that attracted the who’s who of the private sector in healthcare but both Rao and Singh gave the event a miss. While Trivedi praised the Apollos and the Batras which, he said, had helped him promote his dynamic ideas in the health ministry, he repeated his charge that the “slow” babus had kept him from overhauling healthcare in the country.
Same day, same time, Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad was busy at an event organised by the Pharmacy Council of India.
While this could appear to be a case of a junior minister filling the space at a parallel event, Trivedi was absent from another event where he was to be present with Azad, Gandhiselvan, Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, Delhi health minister Kiran Walia and Delhi education minister Arvinder Singh, on World Population Day on July 11.
So how did Trivedi handle the absence of his top bureaucrats at the CII event? Well, he made optimum use of the podium for around 45 minutes to claim that he had been busy making the functions of the ministry ‘transparent’ by the use of technology, and also to give a push to his son, Parthasarthy Trivedi, who apparently has a major role in designing the web portal which he wants his ministry to okay.
While Trivedi’s indiscreet remarks have given a leg up to the unassuming minister of state for health Gandhiselvan, it remains to be seen whether Trivedi will carry on his solo act at events of secondary importance or choose to go the way of his party leader and pursue an independent agenda. If nothing else, Trivedi can appropriate and vigorously pursue his party leader Mamata Banerjee’s plan to set up healthcare centres on the unused land of Indian Railways.
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